OceanaGold Corp's after-tax profit for the 2012 calendar year more than halved from the previous year despite a 55 percent increase in gold production in the fourth quarter compared to the previous three months to September 30.
The Melbourne-based New Zealand and Filipino gold miner declared a tax-paid profit of $US20.67 million, down from $US44.17 million the previous year, reflecting lower overall production from its South Island mines and costs of developing the Didipio project in the Philippines, which produced first ore in the last month of the year.
Total gold sales for the year were $US385.4 million from $US395.6 million the year before.
At year end, the company had cash reserves of $US96.5 million, compared with $US170 million a year earlier, but with Didipio coming on stream, mining assets are now recorded in the company's accounts at $US607.5 million, compared with $US379.8 million in the previous year.
Full year production of 232,909 ounces of gold exceeded the company's 2012 production guidance range of 225,000 to 230,000 ounces, of which 76,844 ounces was produced in the fourth quarter, at a cash cost per ounce of $US638 an ounce.
For the full year, 2012 gold sales were 230,119 ounces and cash costs of $US940 per ounce sold, which was lower than the cost guidance range.
"Commissioning of Didipio continues to advance well with the plant achieving higher than expected throughput rates and better recoveries to date," the company says. "First copper/gold concentrate was produced in December 2012 and first shipment of concentrate trucked to port in January 2013."
However, the strong fourth quarter reflected "solid performance" from its New Zealand operations, with higher grade ore mined at Macraes and Reefton operations.
"The quarter on quarter increase in gold ounces sold and lower expenses were the main factors for significantly lower cash costs in the fourth quarter," the company says in statements issued to the NZX, ASX, and Toronto Stock Exchange, where OceanaGold is listed.
The shares slipped 0.3 percent $3.09 in New Zealand and slipped 7.4 percent this year.
"The substantial increase in cash operating margin in the fourth quarter was a result of the higher ounces of gold sold, lower operating costs and higher average price of gold received."
The company spent $US14.9 million on exploration 2012, mainly in New Zealand and developments in both New Zealand and the Philippines meant 2013 was shaping as a "transformational" year for the company, managing director Mick Wilkes says.
At Didipio, the focus of commissioning activities was now on increasing copper and gold recoveries and ramp-up of the plant throughput, with the project on track to deliver on expectations to mill 2.5 million tonnes this year, Wilkes said.